German defence minister meets with Peshmerga in Erbil

German Minister of defense Ursula von der Leyen visted German soldiers and Peshmerga training facilities in Erbil © Twitter / German Consulate in Erbil

The German defence minister arrived in Erbil on Sunday morning following a visit to Baghdad.

Ursula von der Leyen is inaugurating the first phase of a planned private Peshmerga hospital. Germany has allocated €6 million for the project, Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahman reported. The hospital is expected to be opened next year.

Speaking to reporters, von der Leyen said she was in Erbil to visit Peshmerga forces and German soldiers. She commended Peshmerga and the Iraqi army in their campaigns to defeat ISIS in Iraq. “We all know that the Peshmerga on our behalf and that of the world, fought very well against ISIS,” she said.

On Germany’s training of the Peshmerga, she said “We spent an intense three and half years together,” adding that the Kurdish force has “developed well” as they have “the willing and desire to learn.” She believed however, “the end of ISIS war does not mean full restoration of stability.”

The military defeat of ISIS is a “transitional” stage, she said. “We want to impose this triumph and spread it throughout Iraq.” She stressed that Berlin wants to continue to work with Iraq in bringing about sustained stability in the country. “We would like to have a long-term partnership with Iraq,” she concluded.

She also attended a joint German-Peshmerga first aid training session. This marks her fifth visit to the Kurdistan Region.

She recently met with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and a KRG delegation on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in late January. They touched on continuing to improve Baghdad-Erbil relations.

Up to 150 German soldiers are based at the international anti-ISIS Combined Joint Operations Command Center in Erbil, where they have worked with Iraqi and Kurdish commanders, in addition to Peshmerga units through the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTTC).

Source: Rudaw

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